My friend Adrienne was so kind as to give me The Essential New York Times Cookbook for Christmas.

Boy is it a whopper. It’s kind of intimidating. There are thousands of recipes here, and although it includes menu suggestions sorted by occasion and time period, (19th-century potted salmon, anyone?), I was unsure where to start. So I went to the most logical place for me: the pasta chapter.

As it happens, I learned only a couple of months ago through this recipe on Food 52 that really, manicotti isn’t prepared with tubes of pasta, but with crepes. The manicotti recipe in the NYT book is very similar to that one, so I decided to start there.

I have never prepared crepes before. Can you tell?

Fortunately I had read elsewhere that the first crepe is always the sacrificial lamb, so I wasn’t too disappointed in myself. It was ugly, but tasty. This recipe has parmesan in the crepe batter, so they’re like cheesy pancakes.

I improved with practice, but only a little. I’m sure it would help to have a proper crepe pan, but as my husband is fond of saying, a poor workman blames his tools, right? I did have an excellent sous chef.

Yes, that’s my child sitting unassisted on the counter playing with a microplane. The crepes are filled with a yummy ricotta mixture and topped with tomato sauce and a sprinkling of parmesan. A warm-through in the oven and it’s ready.

Seal of approval: a clean plate.


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